Clemson’s National Dropout Prevention Center to assist S.C. at-risk schools

April 15, 2014

CLEMSON — Clemson University’s National Dropout Prevention Center (NDPC) has entered into an agreement with the S.C. Department of Education to analyze needs and provide support to the state’s 26 at-risk schools.

The South Carolina Education Accountability Act authorizes support for the state’s lowest-performing schools, designated as “at-risk,” and tasks the S.C. Department of Education to recruit and organize teams of experts to assist these schools.

The National Dropout Prevention Center will train and lead 26 External Review Teams consisting of experienced educators and community leaders selected by the Department of Education and assigned to targeted schools, said Sandy Addis, NDPC associate director.

After training, the teams will visit assigned schools, analyze performance data and confer with educators, parents, community members and local boards of education to identify needs of the schools. The review teams also will work with local educators and administrators to develop improvement plans, make recommendations for improvement, select needed professional development and guide implementation of improvement strategies.

The National Dropout Prevention Center will support this statewide effort by providing leaders for each school team from among their experienced staff members and practitioner consultants, Addis said.

The National Dropout Prevention Center was selected for this work because of its history of providing a similar service, the Program Assessment and Review (PAR), to more than 100 schools, districts and states over the past eight years, Addis said.

In recent years, it has refined a variety of steps, processes and protocols that are used by site visit teams to analyze school data and to identify improvement needs in areas of instruction, leadership, school climate and student achievement.

The NDPC has assembled a cadre of practitioner consultants who have experience in data analysis, strategy development, school improvement planning and implementation. Its current practitioner consultants will work with center staff to design processes, train review team members and organize and lead teams as they work directly with the designated schools in the coming months, Addis added.

“The National Dropout Prevention Center and Clemson University look forward to working with the S.C. Department of Education to assist these targeted schools,” said Beth Reynolds, NDPC executive director. “NDPC has the research base, experience, tools and personnel to provide this service. Analyzing school performance issues and developing improvement strategies is a big part of what we do. Providing assistance to South Carolina’s highest-need schools is consistent with the outreach mission of Clemson University and will help to improve the graduation rate of our state.”

“This agreement is great news for everyone who cares about the well-being of the state’s at-risk schools,” said Larry Allen, dean of Clemson’s College of Health, Education and Human Development. “The partnership of the National Dropout Prevention Center and the S.C. Department of Education brings great minds to the table, and we are pleased that Clemson is involved in this effort.”